One “wokism” which the world is enthralled with is cultural appropriation, and socially crucifying anyone who does it. But the one culture which has any rights to be up in arms about any inappropriate appropriation of its identity is the one culture as silent as a lamb – while the rest of the cultures of the world howl like she-wolves in the outer dark.
For those who don’t know, cultural appropriation is when one culture, say, a predominately white European American culture, calls its team mascot by the name of another people, or uses images associated with that people – even when that people is native to the land of said white European American culture. This habit of copying or using other cultures is considered a kind of exploitation, especially when it involves the religious symbols, fashions, language or music of a people.
One hot-topic item has been the exploitation of the Native American warbonnet, a ceremonial headdress worn by decorated and honored Native Americans. As one Cherokee academic, Adrienne Keene, said in The New York Times, speaking of non-Native Americans wearing warbonnets:
“When it becomes a cheap commodity anyone can buy and ear to a party, that meaning is erased and disrespected, and Native peoples are reminded that our cultures are still seen as something of the past, as unimportant in contemporary society, and unworthy of respect.”
Keene has a point. Surely sacred garments, or anything sacred of a culture, shouldn’t be reduced to a “cheap commodity,” because the sacredness of the artifact is reduced to insignificance. Perhaps it would be wrong of the world to commercialize Christmas, that is, Christ-Mass, or decorate Easter eggs, the symbol of the Resurrection, or exchange St. Valentine cards, host Halloween parties, or, heaven forbid, wear green t-shirts in remembrance of Saint Patrick who vanquished Irish paganism from the green Isle over 1500 years ago.
I could go on and talk about how the world has stolen so much more from Catholic culture, like hospitals, universities, science, law, art, and, well, everything else in Western Civilization, only that would be foolish, because these things were not stolen by the world but given to the world by God through the Church. The Catholic Church, unlike wokism, is very generous with its gifts of grace.
Saint Patrick, for instance, was given to Ireland – and eventually the world – by God in the fifth century, to liberate the Irish culture from false gods like Crom Cruach who demanded human sacrifice. One religious symbol of Saint Patrick’s spiritual conquest of Ireland is the shamrock.
Friday March 17 marks the death and feast day of Saint Patrick. Even as early as the end of February, shamrocks began to sprout up, as by magic or miracle, in grocery store checkouts. But this clover becoming a universal symbol for everything Irish is not understood absent any mention of the Holy Trinity – the only reason for its significance at all. Without the Catholic Faith in the Holy Trinity, the shamrock is a piece of grass or weed, hardly the stuff of cultural iconography.
So, come Friday please attend a St. Patrick’s Day parade and party, and wear green and wave your shamrocks and drink beer – which the monks saved for you, by the way, from the dark ages – as much as your heart’s desire. As a Catholic and not a “wokester,” I don’t mind a wink. That’s because beer, shamrocks, and the color green don’t belong to me, but the Catholic Church which gave these things significance and gave them as gifts to an ungrateful world.
Come to think of it, Saint Patrick doesn’t belong to the Irish, either. He belongs to God.